Virginia Tech football has many issues, but quitting is definitely not among them.
The Hokies’ rebound from their three-game skid Saturday wasn’t pretty — Virginia Tech failed to put Georgia Tech away on several occasions and settled for five field goal attempts, three of which came from the red zone. Regardless, the Hokies prevailed, and for at least a week, the smell of victory wafts through the Merryman Athletic Center.
I could sit here and poke holes in the Hokies’ 26-17 victory all day long. If Virginia Tech wasn’t 4-4 and worried about bigger problems come seasons’ end, I probably would. But for today, I'm just going to enjoy the win.
Even though the Hokies settled for five field goals, Virginia Tech’s offensive performance was one of the best we’ve seen this year. Braxton Burmeister completed multiple throws downfield to stretch Georgia Tech’s defense to the brink. Tre Turner had a career day, catching seven passes for 187 yards and a touchdown. Malachi Thomas validated his breakout performance against Syracuse, running for 103 yards against the Yellow Jackets.
In total, Tech amassed 491 yards of offense, 237 of which came on the ground. Raheem Blackshear joined the party with 83 rushing yards of his own. Burmeister chipped in 46.
Virginia Tech went 9-19 on third down and dominated the time of possession battle by 11 minutes. By this season’s standard, the Hokies’ performance on Saturday was incredibly productive.
On the other side of the ball, the Hokies’ defense held up their end of the bargain. They pushed Jeff Sims into two turnovers and held Georgia Tech to just 3-12 on third-down attempts. Even better, the Hokies got stops on two of Georgia Tech’s three fourth-down attempts.
One cannot forget John Parker Romo’s performance — four makes with his only miss coming from 53 yards away. After a shaky start, Romo is now 10-13 on field goals and a perfect 22-22 on extra points this year.
Saturday’s win doesn’t change how I feel about the team’s ceiling or talent level as Virginia Tech is a middling team with many flaws. The Hokies aren’t where they need to be and just about everyone understands that.
But I think it’s important to recognize that while staring a three-game losing streak directly in the face, these players and coaches continued fighting and pushed themselves over the hump. That’s an accomplishment.
Justin Fuente noted after Tech’s heartbreaking loss to Syracuse that he hated watching his players work so hard throughout the week, only to lose. He hoped that his players would remain focused and continue striving towards winning, rather than sulking and giving in.
His players responded.
Nobody inside the football program is giving up. Even though the season feels lost from a macro perspective, players and coaches are treating every game like it could be their last. They’re laying it on the line. They aren’t quitting.
That’s what I’m going to take from this game. I don’t know what this program will look like come January, but for right now, I’m proud of the effort being shown from these guys.
I hope it continues through the end of the season.